Vikings Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner
Q: How do you feel about the extended preseason and the fifth game? Does it help you as a coordinator?
A: I think this year has been great for us with our young guys. Not only the evaluation, but the opportunity for them to get the reps that they've gotten. We've gotten a lot of guys good reps in the second half and we've been able to evaluate them. We've seen them grow and improve a great deal.
Q: Will Teddy Bridgewater play on Thursday night?
A: You've got to talk to Coach Zimmer. We're getting him ready to play. Coach will not make that announcement or if he doesn't need to make an announcement he won't.
Q: Do you worry about the amount of touches Mike Wallace has gotten so far this preseason?
A: Well, we have an advantage, we get to see him every day out here in practice and he's going against a really good secondary, going against guys that get to see him over and over and over, so it's harder to get open. It's like going and playing in your division the third year against teams that you play twice a year. Out here, they see us and know us and we get a certain split, then they have a pretty good idea of the route or they hear a call, they have a pretty good idea what's coming and he's still made a lot of plays out here. He's a guy who if he was a rookie and he hadn't made plays in games you say, "Well, we have to see him do it in games." He's not in that category. He's played a lot better in the last two years than people give him credit for. If we get him to catch 65 balls and have 10 touchdowns or nine touchdowns, I think he'll make a great contribution and help our entire team.
Q: Where do you think Taylor Heinicke has grown the most in this preseason?
A: Just getting a feel for playing and understanding the speed. He's gotten a lot better with his feet, gotten the ball out quicker. In the second half, the coverage isn't as good, the defenses aren't as sophisticated but we can't control that. But he's made plays that show he's got a chance to develop into a guy that could be on our roster.
Q: Has Mike Harris been a surprise to you at all with his seamless transition to guard?
A: He played good for us last year and it doesn't surprise me. He's got things he's got to get better at and every week you get on film, every game you get on film, people are looking at you and looking at things they can do to beat you. Because he's at a new position, he still has a lot of work to do and we have a lot of work to do on the offensive line and we don't have a whole lot of time to get it done before the opener. He's just got to come out here like Coach Zimmer said and we've got to get better every time we go practice and we've got to get something out of every opportunity we have.
Q: How is the communication and relationship on that right side been between Mike Harris and T.J. Clemmings?
A: The communication and all of that is really good. I think they're two young players in terms of Mike being new at the position and T.J. being a young player. Jeff [Davidson] does a great job with them and breaking things down and teaching them what they need to get done. There's challenges ahead for us because people start attacking you in terms of your scheme and they start attacking personnel and I don't think we've seen that yet.
Q: How far has T.J. Clemmings come in the last month and having to become a starter?
A: He's gotten a lot better with his initial sets and his technique. I think he's getting better every day. As I just said, he's got a long ways to go. We have a long ways to go as an offensive football team, as an offensive line. Coach Zimmer has talked to our team repeatedly the last few days. We've got to get better and get something out of every opportunity we have whether it's a walk-thru, a practice, preseason game because we're trying to catch up in some areas.
Q: What do you specifically like about T.J. Clemmings?
A: I like his athleticism, I like his toughness, his ability to compete. He's got long arms, he's not fazed right now by the big picture, the game. It gets going pretty fast out there. He has not seemed to be a guy that's gotten rattled.
Q: What is your assessment in the running game so far and do you feel the blocking is there?
A: I think it's really difficult to make an assessment of the running game in preseason. It's not been something that we've gone into any of the preseason games and said, "Hey, we're going to go run the football. We're going to run it 25 times in the first half and get this done." We've tried to do enough things in all areas to evaluate our players and give them a chance to go function in a lot of different areas. We're going to be a good running football team. We developed into a pretty good running team last year. I like Matt [Asiata] obviously, I like Jerick [McKinnon] and obviously we're anxious to get [Adrian] Peterson back. We got to see him in one game last year and we ran the ball pretty good in that game.
Q: How has Stefon Diggs done as far as route running and his alignments?
A: I think like a lot of young players, you see guys improve real quickly because he's never been in a system like ours, he's never been asked to be as disciplined as we ask him to be. We ask a lot of those guys in terms of understanding defenses, understanding what we're trying to get done. He's shown that he is a willing learner, he's a hard worker, he's got outstanding athleticism and ability to catch the ball. I get excited watching him work and work to get better. He's like a lot of our guys though, he's got a lot of work to do.
Q: How difficult has it been getting cohesion along the offensive line with the injuries and John Sullivan missing some practice time, has it been frustrating in anyway?
A: We're getting a lot of practice at it because we went through the entire season last year doing that with the number of guys we started and the number of guys we played at different positions. Jeff [Davidson] does a great job with the offensive line, he and Hank [Fraley] together, I think they do a great job. He asks a lot of those guys in terms of learning multiple positions to start with, we're lucky to have Joe Berger because he can jump back in there at center and just knock a little rust off and play pretty good and understands our system. The move of Brandon [Fusco] to left guard is a bonus for us, the left side, I think has played extremely well in the preseason. We just talked about the right side, I think they're growing and learning. There's going to be some hiccups along the way. I think we have a chance of developing into a real good offensive line.
Q: Do you notice any difference at Kyle Rudolph compared to last year at this time and starting to struggle with the injury?
A: I think Kyle [Rudolph] has had a good camp. There's always things that we're working on to help guys get better, he understands what those things are. For minutes played and opportunities he's had I think he's done a good job in the passing game. He's working hard in the running game. When you play tight end against the big defensive ends you can get caught in some tough match-ups and we haven't really game planned to try to avoid those match-ups. Kyle has got himself ready to have a really outstanding year. Everyone gets caught up in numbers, I hope we don't have one guy that's got a whole lot of numbers more than the other, I hope we have balance all of the way across. We have a lot of guys that can make plays and if they all have a chance to contribute, it'll make us a better offense.
Q: You have so many receivers, you have lots of tight ends, it has to be an offensive coordinators dream to be able to have so many playmakers to spread to ball around to isn't it?
A: It starts, to me, with what you're capable of doing, that's why you guys are asking so much about it, the offensive line. Them being able to protect and run the ball and then do a lot of different things because we do a lot of different things, we ask a lot of them. Then we've got a lot of guys who've played and have had production and have made plays. Obviously you can't play them all, but we're going to try to figure out what everyone does best and give them opportunities to do those things. I think you saw it last year with Jarius Wright, it took a little while for him to really get a feel for what we're doing but once he got going, he made a lot of plays that helped us. Like I say, with this set of guys, I don't see one guy flashing unbelievable numbers, but I see a lot of guys Sunday nights looking and saying, 'this guy, it was his turn and he was a big part of our win,' and that makes it harder on the defense if you have multiple guys that can be that guy.
Q: In terms of depth, Coach Zimmer said yesterday he feels you have a lot more depth than you did last year, how much better is the depth on offense than a year ago?
A: Obviously without Adrian [Peterson] last year, that changed the whole running back outlook, so we have a lot more depth with our runners. We have more depth at tight end, right now we have four guys in there that we feel can play. We obviously have depth at receiver. The area we're extremely thin is in the offensive line. I think offensively, all of the things we've talked about, there's a lot of real positives. We've just got to have a little luck up front.
Q: Have you seen anything from David Yankey or Austin Shepherd to think that one of them will fill the role as your swing tackle?
A: We're working on it right now. This game will be another opportunity for those guys to show themselves playing. I think both have had highlights and bright spots, and both have had struggles. We're just continuing to coach them, help them get better and then continue to evaluate them.
Q: Where does David Yankey need to make the biggest improvement?
A: I think like all young guys, consistency. Once you get to a point, you go play two or three plays in a row, then you need to do that six or seven, then you do that eight or 10 in a row. That's common and that's what you have to work on with young guys up front, particularly, as I said, those guys have a lot of challenges. They see multiple looks and a lot of defenses doing a lot of different things to make it real tough on the offensive line.